Three children spend a day burying dead creatures in this New Zealand import originally from Sweden.
This perspicacious observation of how children copy adult behavior in their play is also a hilarious spoof on the overtly pious funeral industry. Esther, her younger brother Puttie, and the unnamed narrator have “nothing to do” one day. Finding a dead bumblebee, Esther declares they must bury it, but the narrator is leery of touching it, being afraid of death, and so instead offers to write the poem: “A dear little life in the hand / Suddenly gone, deep in the sand.” Little Puttie, completely in the dark about death, is upset when Esther tells him he too will die when he is “an old man.” “But Mummy and Daddy will be so sad,” he whimpers. After the success of the bumblebee interment, Esther is enthused about burying “all the poor dead animals,” and the children start “Funerals Ltd.,” phoning neighbors for dead pets and scouring the bushes and byways for roadkill. The story cleverly—and tenderly—pivots near its end, giving it a touching depth (with a twist). Eriksson’s keenly observed illustrations include full-page and double-page spreads as well as spots, and they are as wickedly hilarious as the text in their understated expressions and details. An abundance of soft springlike colors present a visually humorous juxtaposition to the morbid theme. The children are illustrated as white.
Dark and hilarious. (Fiction. 7-12)